Changing default geoprivacy

Is there a way that I can set my default geoprivacy to “obscured” for all future observations?


@coreyhusic Sorry, I do not believe you can. I believe that you have to change every single observation manually.

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Because iNat is fundamentally about sharing information, it’s not possible to set a default geoprivacy to obscured or private. It needs to be done on an observation-by-observation basis, via batch editing on upload in the web uploader, or via batch editing on the Edit Observations screen on the website.


Thanks, @tiwane. That makes sense. A few people I know, including myself, have been having problems with people trespassing to find species that they said they learned about on iNat, hence my question.


Trespassing? Can you expand on the particular action?


does the species need its location to be obscured?

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It sounds like they don’t want things posted from their land because other people take it as access permission and trespass. I’m sad to hear that is happening. I’ve heard people concerned about it happening but hadn’t heard concrete examples before.


I wish there was a ‘tiny obscuration’. There are a lot of rarer finds I make, and I have to obscure every single thing I found at that locality, which is next to useless for citizen science. If there was a ‘tiny obscuration’, (perhaps within 500m?), then the record would still be good for citizen science and my rarer species would still be safe on iNat.


Yeah, this is more or less the case. I’ve been working with another individual doing some surveys on private land that has a number of unique plant and animal species. Both we and the property owner want these sightings to be in a database like iNat since in some cases they are county/state records. That said, not long after we started entering these sightings (and honestly, we didn’t quite realize at first that iNat gave very specific coordinates), there were two instances where the property owner found people trespassing saying that they were specifically looking for species they had heard about on iNaturalist. We don’t believe that they were trying to harm/collect anything, but there are safety concerns on the property not to mention that it is posted private land.

From now on, we will continue to submit data, but will obscure the entries each time.


Also read about trespassing issues after lockdown (in Australia?)
People who must have that selfie with that view. Landowners were left to deal with garbage, sh*t and broken fences.

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I was also looking for a way to change the default geoprivacy setting of “open”, and am disappointed to see that iNat rejected this as somehow going against its mission. To my mind, it is a basic precaution that iNat should encourage rather than discourage.

I have enjoyed using iNat for several years but have never sought an exact location for an observation, so I’m confused how the obscured default would detract. Please clarify how the location information is used? If there is significant value from including precise location information, I believe there should be a more private way of storing it for the given purpose(s).

Please reconsider this request… and advise if there is a different forum for submitting feature requests.

Thank you!

If you’re working on a PC and upload photos in batches, it’s easy to “select all” and make them all “obscured.” If you upload them individually from the field, that’s more of a problem, but one option would be to go with the defaults and then use “batch edit” at the end of the day or the next day to change them, since the probability that someone will find the record of interest that quickly is low (though non-zero).

One of the great things about iNaturalist is the huge database it’s building of what’s where when. These data can be used to understand changes of distribution and timing as our climate changes. I’m glad most of the data are “open” and would not support a call for changes to make obscuring them easier.


Of course there’s a big value of having a precise location, as info from iNat is shared with GBIF, as other purposes as finding the specimen again (not by mentioned trespassers, but by professionals). Having place obscured rather then setting a wrong location makes it possible for you to share the access to an actual location with people you trust.


I surely appreciate the potential value, which is why I asked about how the location info is used. It’s not clear to me, but perhaps I’m being dense or I missed it in the documentation.

If the obscure option renders the location info useless, I second the suggestion for a less obscure obscurity option :}

As I understand it there is a brilliant feature that stores precise location info for endangered species, while auto-magically hiding this level of detail from public view. Why not something similar to accommodate privacy concern? This could be a default or manual setting for whatever level of obscurity on public access, while full or more precise location info is stored and used for generating maps and/or by-request for distribution studies.

A trigger or flag for observations that are beyond the known distribution or at its edge could also help - on upload and/or whenever ID status changes.

An option to indicate private vs public or open-access property could also be useful.

It’s unfortunate that there is any need to address privacy/security concerns, but this is reality.

The obscured setting should not render the location info useless, it just restricts who as access to seeing the exact location.

My understanding is that The exact location is stored when using the Obscured setting. That recorded location is ~only~visible to the user and specific trusted people that user designated…

Other people see a point nearby “somewhere” within a square area around the location. The size of that square varies with the latitude and longitude (it is smaller near the poles and larger near the equator). But the square is small enough that range information is valid.

Many people identify more species around their homes and after a while it would be possible for anyone to figure out where iNat users live if they don’t obscure the location for those home-based specimens.


For identification (my main role here), I am fine with the “obscured” setting. So much better than “private,” which doesn’t even tell us which continent the observation is on!


What we have for endangered species is the same as obscured locality. Thing is the location if you share the observation data with GBIF will be the same as on iNat, not a true one, so you should think about which way is for you.

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Good to know - but I believe a key difference is that the endangered species functionality is automatic.

For all other (non-endangered) species observations, currently users have to be aware that the geoprivacy default setting is open and precise, then manually change it before or after every observation upload, if there is any concern or preference for the obscure setting.

It would be great - much more user-friendly, if users could change the default geoprivacy setting to “obscure”.

Thanks for your consideration!


I voted for the related feature request here.

The issue I have is that there are so few intact native areas where I am, even when submitting images of non-endangered species, putting the location indicates the location of endangered ones. Also the date is a giveaway if you have obscured and non-obscured locations from the same day. We have had issues with people trespassing and damaging endangered plants they worked out the location of that way. So I obscure everything I submit, but Iʻm always nervous I’m going to forget some.